2nd May 2015

Visiting the Lake District Tarns - Walk 42

The Coniston Tarns

Time 8am to 3:25pm
Duration 7 hr 25 min
Distance 12.4 mile
Ascent 4900 ft
Walking with Rod Hepplewhite
Coniston - Miners Bridge - Hole Rake Tarn - Wetherlam Tarns - Wetherlam - Black Sails - Sam Bottom - Levers Water - Boulder Valley - Low Water - Coniston Old Man - Goat's Hawse - Goat's Water - The Cove - Walna Scar Road - Blind Tarn - Walna Scar Road - Boo Tarn - Coniston
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre -
Find a walk starting from
Car park, Coniston

As with most other car parks in towns and villages you'll need to bring planty of pound coins to park next to the tourist information centre car park. This one isn't the biggest car park either and it does fill up rather quickly. If you don't mind a short walk however, there is a second option at Coniston Sports Club (the top red arrow)

Route Map


The tarns on this walk were to have been spread across three different walks originally. Then, after a few recent email conversations it was decided that we could combine them all and end up with an out of the ordinary, yet very enjoyable route. All we had to do was get here and then get parked up. That should have been the easy part of the day but didn't quite work out that way. First of all we tried to take the shortcut from Grasmere over Red Bank, only to find the road was closed (OK we'll drive all the way round by Ambleside). Once we got to Coniston we headed for the road near the museum and that had been lined with police cones (OK we'll have to find somewhere else to park).

From Coniston we head up the track to Miners Bridge. It's easy walking up here and it's warming up nicely because we're sheltered from any breeze there may be.

Here we are at Miners Bridge, and for those among you that like facts and figures, it requires exactly 1 mile of walking and about 300ft of height gain to get here from our parking spot. Had we parked where we originally wanted to the distance would be less. Never mind; the exercise will do us good.

Before we head up towards Hole Rake, we stop and admire the view into Coppermines Valley. I said something about wanting to see the place when the mines and quarries were in full operation. Rod added that he'd like to see the place before any of the mines and quarries were here. I hadn't thought about it like that but yes, that would be even more interesting.


Time for us to start gaining height now and as we do Coniston comes into view.

Here at Hole Rake Tarn something happened that I've never experienced before, , , ,
"you fell in the tarn"
"no, I didn't fall in"
"you went in on purpose"
"don't be daft, I'm not that keen. Anyway: stop talking and listen for a minute because it's got nowt to do with the tarn. It was the camera; it issued a refusal and told me the battery was flat. Mmmmm, that's odd because I'm pretty strict about keeping it charged it up."

Luckily, depending on your point of view, the forecast was for rain later on so I'd brought the 'other' camera along as well. No I need to suss out if the battery is goosed or if it could have been my fault.

Levers Water can be seen over there below Brim Fell.

Looking back down the fellside to see Coniston stretching away into the distance.

About half way between Hole Rake and Wetherlam summit we pass by the tarns at the top of Steel Edge. There are a few tarns here, all found close to each other and quite easy to spot; unless you happen to be looking in the opposite direction of course.



Wetherlam summit was reached but the strong wind kept our summit time to a minimum.

Looking to the left of the previous picture we see Swirl How and Great Carrs.

Our intention had been to walk down the full Black Sails ridge to get to Levers Water but we soon found ourselves naturally veering off to the right so decided to head off path and drop down to the normal route from Swirl Hawse instead.
The darker fell in the centre of the picture is Coniston Old Man. I appreciate it's a good distance away from here but it's not as difficult to get to as the picture makes it look. The timings on the pictures tell me it took us exactly 2 hours to walk from here to the top of Coniston Old Man.


It was bound to happen eventually, but it was as we reached Levers Water that we began to pass other people. It was also around here that the first spots of rain turned up.


No water running over the outflow today.


Whoever designed this dam certainly made sure it was wide enough to hold back the water. They also made sure it was pleasing to the eye.

Hats off to the folk that enjoy and are brave enough to venture into these places but for me personally, that's one area of nature I really don't want to experience. I'm not scared of the dark, I'm not really bothered by enclosed spaces and I don't mind water. However, if you put them all together underground; the alarm bells start ringing and something tells me that just isn't a place I should be going.

Boulder Valley. Strange name for somewhere with lots of big stones scattered about.

Looking down to Coniston, Coniston Water and of course all the mines and quarries.

One of the biggest if not the biggest boulder in the valley is this one called Pudding Stone.

Just one of the many mine ruins found in this area.

Now we're on the Low Water route up to Coniston Old Man which takes you past disused quarries, old buildings, redundant machinery, spoil heaps and makes for an ascent as interesting as any you're likely to find anywhere.


Low Water.

and again from above.
The weather was slowly but surely taking a turn for the worse by this time. The few spots of rain we'd had were becoming more persistent and we even had a bit of snow further up from here.

Coniston Old Man summit was windy, wet and cloudy while we were here.

Goat's Water. That's where we're heading next but not straight down from here. First we made our way to Goat's Hawse where we'd then turn left and end up walking head on into the strengthening wind. Add that to the rain and sleet and the result was the type of brain freeze you get if you've eaten an ice cream too quickly.

Goat's Water below Goat's Hawse.

and below the rocks and crags on Dow Crag.

Looking over The Cove to Coniston Old Man. Because we were heading up to Blind Tarn rather than going straight down to Coniston, it made sense to take an off path route across the edge of The Cove instead of taking the 'proper' path from Goat's Water to Walna Scar Road.

Here you see Walna Scar Road winding it's way in the direction of Coniston. We're going that way eventually but first of all we head up to Blind Tarn.

Blind Tarn. You'd be forgiven for thinking this was a difficult place to reach but the truth is quite the contrary. It's only a two mile walk from the Fell Gate car park, most of which is along Walna Scar Road and then a short section (with a good path) across to the tarn itself. Even if this isn't the only place you're setting out to reach and you happen to be on the Walna Scar Road as part of a much longer walk, it's well worth the short de-tour to the tarn.

This is the path back from the tarn to Walna Scar Road.

Cove Bridge.

Lastly we pass by Boo Tarn which I'm sure would appreciate a bit of care and attention.


Not dried up, just incredibly overgrown.

Well, the rain had well and truly set in now so I'm afraid that's all for today folks.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks